MABLETON – Two middle-aged Hispanic men are on a hunger strike in protest of Georgia’s new immigration law, and say they are willing to risk their lives to bring attention to “a hateful anti-immigrant law aimed at us and our brothers and sisters.”
The men, who live in a dilapidated apartment building near Pebblebrook High School, began their hunger strike on July 1, the day Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 87 into law.
A native of Mexico who moved to the U.S. in the 1970s, Salvador Zamora, 49, who said he became a U.S. citizen last year, called the law unconstitutional.
“It was going to let any police officer stop any immigrants just for no reason and ask them for their papers, and that can be used in many ways to violate laws and civil rights,” he said.
But it’s not just the new Georgia law Zamora said he wants to see amended, but action on the national level with the approval of the DREAM Act.
Also participating in the hunger strike is Martin Altamirano, 45, a Honduras native, who said he moved to the U.S. in the 1990s on a work visa.
Altamirano met Zamora a few months ago in Washington after the former finished a 3,000-mile walk from California to the White House to raise awareness about immigration reform.
Altamirano, who has a daughter at South Cobb High School, works as a general mechanic, while Zamora said he sells vitamins.
Since beginning the strike 12 days ago, the only thing they have allowed themselves to ingest is water laced with honey and lemon, they said.
“We have checkups from doctors,” Zamora said. “They want us to stop. They say three days, it’s fine, but more than three days, it’s dangerous. We know the risk, but we want to continue until some results are done, until we get some results, until we raise awareness with the American people with this problem.”
Both men said while they have no desire to die, they will strike until they see change, even if that means death.
“It’s a very common question from people about this situation,” Altamirano said. “The thing is, Christianity is based on a carpenter that died for the brothers. I don’t know why people don’t get used to the idea that someone sacrificed for the will of others. I’m willing to do that.”
Zamora said he’s committed as well.
“When we see food, that’s the hardest part. When you see food, you want to eat. It’s hard for us when we smell food or see food, it’s hard. Your body feels like flying. Headaches. Dizziness. Also cramps. Sometimes cramps.”
Rich Pellegrino, director of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, organized a press conference for the two on Tuesday, and sent out their list of demands to the media.
Pellegrino said the goal is to focus on reform “instead of the current enforcement-only, harsh approach endorsed by Arizona, Georgia, Alabama, and other incarceration-minded states.”
The Journal asked state Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), who was involved in helping to pass the immigration bill, what he thought about the strike.
“We are a nation of laws, and we do not apologize for standing up for the rule of law, because it is our sworn duty as well as the very foundation of our society,” Golick said. “Our new law in Georgia is not anti-immigrant: It’s anti-illegal immigrant.”
There is a significant difference between the anti-immigrant and anti-illegal immigrant that the Left never seems to acknowledge, Golick said.
“They simply refuse to accept the fact that our laws apply to everyone – including illegal aliens, no matter how long they have been here in violation of our laws,” he said. “We welcome legal immigrants to our communities, and we reject those who have the audacity to attempt to demonize those of us who simply seek to enforce our laws and to protect public resources from being used by those who are here illegally.”
Immigration activist D.A. King said he found the protest “a hoot.”
“But I am slightly puzzled why (Pellegrino) himself is apparently not participating in the hunger strike,” King said.
King said he is grateful for the three for showing mainstream American how extreme they are.
“The list of demands in their little press release includes every loony leftist cliche I can think of, including the requisite reference to the ‘Gestapo’ in describing their opposition to borders and immigration enforcement,” King said.
“As all MDJ readers should, I say ‘gracias’ to (Pellegrino) and the shrinking protesters for the insight. I hope all Georgians will join me in our ongoing habit of eating at least three times each day to proclaim our approval of HB 87 – which clearly has all the right – and entertaining enemies,” King said, noting he was on his way to order a chili dog.